Abbott Miller

Graphic Designer / United States / Pentagram

Abbott Miller’s Book List

For Designers & Books I decided to focus on books that were influential on me as a student: as I get older, I realize that they continue to influence the way I think about art, architecture, and design.

6 books
John Willett

A fantastic, concise cultural history that situates the emergence of German modernism. Good maps, timelines, and layout: doles out nice illustrations along the way.

Gillian Naylor

This book initiated my own research into the Bauhaus and set off a long engagement with modernist ideas and contradictions.

Carl E. Schorske

Brisk survey of the cultural setting in which Viennese modernism took hold: everything about this book comes to life: architecture, city planning, psychoanalysis, music, literature, painting. A brilliant model of cultural history.

Elizabeth Burris-Meyer

The author ingeniously distills the history of art into 30 amazing color sets such as “Indian,” or “Italian Renaissance,” and provides a one-page narrative for each. The “system” is so disarmingly broad and intuitive, but the magic of the book is that the colors the author chooses are mind-blowingly good. Small silk-screen chips show the color in proportionate quantities. Amazing. If you see this book at any price, buy it. (She did another volume, c. 1948, called Modern Color Guide, which takes on specific and inventive schemes for contemporary interiors.)

Roland Barthes

A book that opened hundreds of doors to reading design, art, music, and film with the eye of an anthropologist and an art critic. Barthes infused everything else I wrote and thought about afterward.

Rosalind Krauss

Essays on the history of modernism and photography that shaped much of my thinking about art, design, and theory. Krauss was an incredible teacher but an even better writer—incredibly sophisticated, cerebral, stylish, and original. This book was foundational for me.

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